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Power Authority Receives Award for Habitat Improvement Project on St. Lawrence River

Paul DeMichele

May 14, 2009


WHITE PLAINS—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) was honored Monday by the National Hydropower Association (NHA) through its annual Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW) Awards for the Authority’s lake sturgeon spawning beds initiative on the St. Lawrence River. The program was a result of an agreement for NYPA to commit $9 million to create and maintain 10 different Habitat Improvement Projects (HIPs) to benefit fish, waterfowl and other wildlife as part of the 50-year license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2003 for the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project.

“The Power Authority is delighted to be recognized by our colleagues in the hydropower industry for the Habitat Improvement Project that we undertook to enhance spawning opportunities for lake sturgeon, a threatened species in New York State,” said Richard M. Kessel, president and chief executive officer, NYPA. “We are dedicated to continue our efforts to implement the St. Lawrence-FDR license through wildlife projects such as this initiative and a variety of other improvements.”

The work on the lake sturgeon spawning beds was completed in late 2007 and was designed to enhance the spawning opportunities for the lake sturgeon in the St. Lawrence River. Two lake sturgeon spawning beds were installed at locations downstream and upstream of the Iroquois Dam, which is part of the St. Lawrence-FDR project. The beds, which consist of large gravel, cover approximately 10,000 square feet of surface area and are one-foot thick. A spawning bed is an area of a stream, lake or river where fish deposit their eggs.

The Power Authority took an innovative, collaborative approach to encourage natural reproduction of the lake sturgeon. In consultation with representatives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, New York Rivers United and St. Lawrence County, NYPA embarked on a multi-phase effort to site, test, and analyze spawning beds in the St. Lawrence River. The approach has yielded exceptional results in the first year of operation.

The Power Authority is still monitoring the spawning beds, gathering information on the lake sturgeon, and will install up to four additional beds in the St. Lawrence River.

Including the lake sturgeon HIP, work has been done on eight of the 10 HIPs committed to by NYPA under the St. Lawrence-FDR’s federal license. Among the other species included in the other HIPs are osprey, common loon, common tern, Blanding’s turtle, grassland birds and walleye. Each project includes a monitoring phase to ensure the effectiveness of the program to improve wildlife habitats.

Provisions of St. Lawrence-FDR’s federal license and a comprehensive settlement agreement include a range of benefits for Northern New York, including environmental improvements, recreational enhancements and a community enhancement fund.

The 800,000-kilowatt St. Lawrence-FDR project began operation in 1958. More than half of the facility’s generation output is reserved under state law for businesses in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Franklin counties.

Each year, the NHA recognizes OSAW award winners at the NHA annual conference in Washington, D.C. This year, it conferred awards to three organizations, including the Power Authority, in the category of Recreational, Environmental and Historical Enhancement.

  About NYPA:

■    NYPA uses no tax money or state credit.  It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity.  ■    NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives.  ■    It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.   For more information,

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